How to Teach Kids Playground Safety
Emergency rooms treat more than 200,000 children each year due to injuries incurred on the playground, according to the CDC. Many of these accidents could have been prevented with proper safety precautions. By educating children on the rules of playground safety, schools can effectively reduce the number of playground related injuries that students suffer. To ensure the safety of students, all schools should take the time to provide playground safety lessons in which they explain the potential injuries that could result from carelessness and show students how to keep themselves safe on the playground.
Show students how each piece of playground equipment is intended to be used. When a manufacturer creates a piece of equipment, they have in mind a certain way in which that piece of equipment should be used. When children deviate too much from the intended method for using equipment, they are more likely to experience an injury. Walk around the playground with your students and demonstrate how you properly play on each piece of equipment. You can ask a student volunteer to complete the demonstrations, or, better still, you can demonstrate yourself. Students love to see their teachers hanging from the monkey bars.
Teach children the “Use Two” Rule. Explain to children that they are much less likely to have an accident if they always make sure that at least two limbs are in contact with the playground equipment at all times. When they are climbing, they should use two hands so they have a safeguard if one hand should slip. When standing on the top of a jungle gym, keeping two feet firmly planted will greatly reduce the risk of falling. After explaining the rule, have a volunteer demonstrate what it looks like when this rule is followed so that students have a visual example.
Create playground rules. Students are more likely to follow rules that they had a hand in creating. Sit down with students and discuss what they think they can do to prevent playground injuries. Students will likely come up with some of the big no-nos such as pushing, horse playing and fighting on their own. You can prompt them with ones that they miss or to add less obvious ones such as follow the teacher’s directions or leave writing utensils in the class. Ensure that all students understand that these rules are there to help them stay safe. Once you have an agreed-upon set of rules, create a colorful poster to display by the door. Students can reference this poster prior to recess to ensure that they know what they need to do.
Make Safety First posters. Ask students to create posters that demonstrate playground safety rules. You can assign each student a specific rule to illustrate if you wish, or you can allow them to select whichever one they like. Guide children as they create attention-getting, meaning-filled posters. Older children can write messages, while the younger kids can just draw pictures to convey their ideas. Display these posters around the room for several weeks so they can serve as a constant reminder to be smart and stay safe on the playground.